Following a week of a sharp increase in new coronavirus cases, Florida reported 966 new positive cases of COVID-19 and 12 new deaths due to the illness Monday as New York, the state hardest hit by the virus, takes the first steps to reopen.
The testing tied to the number of new cases is delayed, meaning the individuals who were tested at least a week or more ago could have contracted the disease around Memorial Day weekend.
Health experts additionally fear that as demonstrators took to the streets for weeks in a row to protest the death of George Floyd, COVID-19 could have been spread as large groups of people congregated for long periods of time.
[UPDATES: George Floyd protests continue worldwide as Democrats plan to unveil police oversight bill]
These new statistics, released by the Florida Department of Health, brought the total number of cases reported in the state to 64,904 since COVID-19 was first detected in Florida on March 1; the state also reported 2,712 total deaths as a result of the respiratory illness.
A total of 11,008 Floridians have required hospitalization since the beginning of March due to severe cases of coronavirus.
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Below is a breakdown of coronavirus cases in the Central Florida region:
While Florida entered phase two of reopening on Friday, other states are beginning to follow suit.
[RELATED: Here’s what to expect as Florida enters phase 2 of reopening]
According to the state’s website, Long Island and Mid-Hudson Valley Regions have met all seven metrics required to begin phase one of the state’s regional phased reopening plan; Capital Region, Western New York, Central New York, Finger Lakes, Mohawk Valley, North Country and Southern Tier can enter phase two.
To date, New York has seen 203,819 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 52,905 hospitalizations due to severe cases of the respiratory illness and 17,146 confirmed deaths. The state also keeps tally of probable deaths, cases in which cause of death reported as “COVID-19” or equivalent, but no positive laboratory test has been completed; New York reports an additional 4,698 probable deaths on top of those that have been confirmed.
[READ MORE: ‘All eyes’ on New York: Reopening tests city torn by crises]
Worldwide, at least 6.9 million people have been infected by the virus, according to Johns Hopkins University, whose aggregated tally has become the main worldwide reference for monitoring the disease.
According to that same tally, the United States leads all other countries in its death toll, with at least 110,514 deaths since the pandemic began, followed by the United Kingdom with the second-highest death toll with at least 40,625 fatalities.
Europe as a whole has recorded more than 175,000 deaths since the virus emerged in China late last year.
Experts estimate there have been at least 403,211 deaths globally, although that number is likely much higher due to under reporting and lack of accessibility to proper medical care in many regions.
Health experts, however, believe that the John Hopkins tally falls short of showing the true tragedy of the pandemic.
On Sunday, a day after the government of Brazil broke with standard public health protocols by ceasing to publish updates of the number of deaths and infections in the hard-hit South American country, the number of worldwide coronavirus deaths grew to 400,000.
At last check, Brazil had the second-highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases, only proceeded by the U.S., with at least 691,758 cases.
Pope Francis cautioned people in countries emerging from lockdown to keep following authorities’ rules on social distancing, hygiene and limits on movement.
“Be careful, don’t cry victory, don’t cry victory too soon,” Francis said. “Follow the rules. They are rules that help us to avoid the virus getting ahead” again.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
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